A day of reckoning has come for destructive crop pests, in the form of vicious voodoo wasps that can convert hapless insects into zombies. Scientists have cracked the genome code for three species of the parasitic wasp, in hopes of deploying them against pests that destroy billions of tons of crops per year, The Independent reports.
The research team especially wants to figure out which wasp genes control which species of pests the wasps attack. Precise target control on the genetic level could make wasps a potent natural weapon against farm pests. And an added bonus could come from developing the wasp venom into new medical drugs.
Tiny voodoo wasps already help regulate the pest population by laying their eggs inside zombified victims. The wasp larvae that eventually emerge grow into adults by feeding off the flesh of their living host. One wasp puts a particularly nasty twist on the concept by enslaving caterpillar hosts to become zombie bodyguards.
U.S. scientists used thousands of parasitic wasps last year to help defend crops such as California olive groves. Perhaps they can soon direct a more coordinated assault using genetically-modified wasp variants. Who minds the minders?
[via The Independent]
Yes indeed. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes.
LOL, would have missed the meme without the Latin!
Doesn't the public (especially those supporting "green" solutions to problems) generally condemn GM organisms? How are they going to market this without severe hippie backlash? I can just imagine the headlines:
Agricultural Giants to Release Mutated Bugs
Government to Approve Zombie-Creating Insects
This is fascinating, but a bit scary.
I hope that they make the creatures
- non reproductive
- short lived
There have been many unexpected downsides when various pests were effectively wiped out.
Also, I hope that the tech is well controlled. It could be the basis of a 'weapon' to destroy helpful bugs.
Making them non reproductive would kind of defeat the purpose of the wasps. They kill by laying their eggs inside of the pest. No eggs = no killing.
I think these wasps laid there eggs in Clay Dillow's head making him wright the most irresponsible and scientifically inaccurate article ever.
MUST OBEY THE QUEEN!!
this could be used in the war on terror, and maybe wars to come. hell, it could be used to prevent future wars. they could engineer something smaller, say lice or something, to lay eggs inside of a diplomats brain, but make them remote controlled, so we could find out what they are planning. but that would count as bio-weapons. cant do it. DAMN YOU JONIVA CONVENTION!!!!
Any living thing adapt and then <b>mutates</b>...we just dont know when.
Could you elaborate on what makes this article inaccurate or irresponsible?
So, correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't introducing foreign species to an environment to fix one problem generally backfire and create a slew of new problems??? I can't think of successful cases off the top of my head.
Those who do not learn their history...